|Studio album by Wu-Tang Clan|
|Released||June 3, 1997|
|Length||44:58 (Disc 1)
67:08 (Disc 2- US)
77:53 (Disc 2- International)
07863-66905 (North America)
|Producer||RZA, 4th Disciple, True Master, Inspectah Deck|
|Wu-Tang Clan chronology|
|Wu-Tang Clan solo chronology|
Wu-Tang Forever is the second studio album of American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, released June 3, 1997 on Loud/RCA Records in the United States. Pressed as a double album, it was released after a long run of successful solo projects from various members of the group, and serves as the follow-up to their debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Forever features several guest appearances from Wu-Tang affiliates Cappadonna, Streetlife, 4th Disciple, True Master, and Tekitha.
Despite limited radio/TV airplay, and a lead single that famously clocked at nearly six minutes with no chorus, Wu-Tang Forever debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 612,000 copies sold in its first week. The album was certified 4x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 15, 1997 (each disc in the double album counted as separate unit for certification purpose), and has sold over 2 million copies in the United States. It is the group's highest selling album to date. Upon its release, Wu-Tang Forever received favorable reviews from most music critics, while it also earned the group a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Album at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998.
Music and lyrics
While the group's previous album is known for its minimalistic production style, producer RZA had been expanding the musical backdrop of each solo Wu-Tang album since then. Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., in particular, was praised for its cinematic feel. RZA earned accolades for his new dense style of production; incorporating strings, heavy synthesizers, and the kung-fu samples of old. The production of the record also pioneered RZA's technique of chopping up and speeding up soul samples to where it is unusually high-pitched. This style of production would be influential on later producers such as Just Blaze and Kanye West. Wu-Tang Forever marked the first group album in-which RZA assigned some of the album's production to Wu-Tang protégés True Master and 4th Disciple, as well as Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck.
The group's lyrics differed in many ways from those of 36 Chambers, with many verses written in stream-of-consciousness style, while being influenced by the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. The group showed some mature depth as well, speaking on the pitfalls of life's vices ("A Better Tomorrow") and the harsh realities of the inner city life. "Impossible," for instance, even touches on the less glamorized realities of the same violence that the group often paraded.
The Wu-Tang Clan took advantage of the double-disc format, allowing each of the nine members with a significant number of appearances, including four solo tracks. Several of the members have been recognized for particularly strong performances:
Inspectah Deck raised his stock in the public eye with The Source's Hip-Hop Quotable for his performance on "Triumph". This verse is also considered by many to be one of the greatest hip-hop verses of all time. Despite being one of the last group members to release a solo album, his contributions throughout Wu-Tang Forever led to being a highly sought after guest collaborator; appearing in the near future on tracks for Gang Starr, Pete Rock and Big Pun, among others.
Ghostface Killah continued his rise to fame with his verse in "Impossible," which was hailed by RZA in the Wu-Tang Manual as "the greatest Wu-Tang verse ever written," and was also featured in The Source's Hip-Hop Quotable. "Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours" has also been noted as one of his memorable verses on the album, for his verse cut-off, first popularizing the feel that he could "go on forever". Ghostface Killah would follow up his work on Forever with Supreme Clientele, which is generally regarded as a classic in the Hip Hop Community.
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Washington Post||(favorable)|
Upon its release, Wu-Tang Forever received positive reviews from music critics, who praised RZA's production work and the group members' lyricism. Matt Diehl from Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A rating, and commented "Forever continues the group's artistic grand slam. Like their forebears in Public Enemy, Wu-Tang are musical revolutionaries, unafraid to bring the noise along with their trunk of funk. The RZA allows a few outside producers behind the board this time, but it's his gritty samples and numbing beats that get the party moving." Sash Frere-Jones from Spin magazine gave the album a 7 out of 10 rating, and wrote "This album is for hip-hop junkies, rhyme followers who want to hear their favorite sword-swallowers drop unusually good styles over unusually good beats." Comparing some of the album's production to that of Wu-Tang member GZA's Liquid Swords (also produced by RZA), Neil Strauss from The New York Times wrote a favorable review of the album and stated "Wu-Tang Forever is a smooth, clean set of 25 songs and two speeches, with only a few throwaways on the second CD. The Wu-Tang Clan offers something for every kind of rap fan. More important, after a four-year wait, on Wu-Tang Forever the Clan retains its mantle as rap's standard bearers." Melody Maker gave Wu-Tang Forever a favorable review as well, stating "It had to be this big. It didn't have to be this good ... Every single track is a detonation of every single pop rule you thought sacrosanct .... Forever is one of the greatest hip hop LPs of all time." Stephen Thomas Erlewine from Allmusic gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, and stated:
Where contemporaries like 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G. issued double-discs cluttered with filler, Wu-Tang Forever is purposeful and surprisingly lean, illustrating the immense depth of producer RZA and the entire nine-piece crew... The result is an intoxicating display of musical and lyrical virtuosity, one that reveals how bereft of imagination the Wu-Tang's contemporaries are.—Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Describing the album's lyrics as "hauntingly descriptive tales of ghetto hustlers and victims," Rolling Stone rated the album 3½ out of 5 stars, and stated "The whole of Wu-Tang Forever crackles with a shootout-at-midnight electricity that more than justifies the double-disc indulgence, while the back-and-forth wordfire of Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, etc. confirms the Clan's singular zing at the mic, and their ghetto-wise might as storytellers." Cheo Coker from Los Angeles Times gave the album 3½ out of 4 stars and commented "The Clan's beats push the limit between cutting-edge hip-hop and industrial feedback, with jugular-clutching rhymes following their own melodic dictates and insular messages running the gamut from ancient maxims of the art of war to spiritual knowledge, wisdom and understanding from the Islamic Five Percent Nation. Clocking in at two hours, this two-disc, 27-track collection starts in earnest with the brilliant "Reunited," in which producer RZA introduces menacing fiddles to his graveyard hoedown. Behind the rhymes lie exciting string movements that give the song an eerie edge that electric guitars just can't project." Edna Gunderson from USA Today also gave the album 3½ out of 4 stars, and wrote "Hip-hop's most anticipated album crackles with the nine-member clan's unique hard-core rhymes and beats. On this two-disc, 112-minute set, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. The RZA avoids overproduction, using the beats to propel the lyrics, and keeps the music free of clichéd R&B loops.
Wu-Tang Forever was ranked as one of the best albums of the year by several notable publications, such as Spin, The Village Voice, NME and Melody Maker. Popular Belgium magazine HUMO, and popular German magazine Spex both ranked it number six on their albums of the year lists. In 1999, Ego Trip ranked Wu-Tang Forever number three on their Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98 list. In their March 2005 issue, Hip Hop Connection ranked the album number 57 on their 100 Greatest Rap Albums 1995-2005 list. Also in 2005, Blow Up magazine from Italy included Wu-Tang Forever in their 600 Essential Albums list.
|3||For Heaven's Sake||RZA||
|4||Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours (Still Don't Nothing Move But The Money)||4th Disciple||
|6||As High as Wu-Tang Get||RZA||
|8||Older Gods||4th Disciple||
|10||A Better Tomorrow||4th Disciple||
Co-produced by RZA
|4||Little Ghetto Boys||RZA||
|6||The City||4th Disciple||
|8||Bells of War||RZA||
|9||The M.G.M.||True Master||
|12||Hellz Wind Staff||RZA||
(international track only)
|*18||Projects (International Remix)
(international track only)
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||8|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||17|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||1|
|Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)||11|
|French Albums (SNEP)||8|
|Irish Albums (IRMA)||1|
|New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)||1|
|Polish Albums (ZPAV)||7|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||11|
|UK Albums (OCC)||1|
|US Billboard 200||1|
|US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)||1|
Chart precession and succession
Live Between Us by The Tragically Hip
|Billboard Canadian Albums number-one album
June 21-27, 1997
Now! 2 by Various artists
Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix by Michael Jackson
|Irish Albums Chart number-one album
July 18-25, 1997
Spice by Spice Girls
The Art of War by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
|New Zealand Albums Chart number-one album
July 18-25, 1997
OK Computer by Radiohead
Open Road by Gary Barlow
|UK Albums Chart number-one album
June 14, 1997 - June 20, 1997
Middle of Nowhere by Hanson
Spice by Spice Girls
|Billboard 200 number-one album
June 21-28, 1997
Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) by Bob Carlisle
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- "Why You Can't Ignore Kanye". Time. August 21, 2005. Retrieved July 17, 2010.
- Gale - Free Resources - Black History - Biographies - Kanye West
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- The AllHipHop Top 20 Dopest Verses Ever!. allhiphop.com. retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Supreme Clientele accolades and ratings. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Erlewine, Stephen. Review: Wu-Tang forever. Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
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- Coker, Cheo (1997-06-01). Review: Wu-Tang Forever. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
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- Christgau, Robert. "CG: Wu-Tang Clan". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
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- Friere-Jones, Sasha (September 1997). Review: Wu-Tang Forever. Spin. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Gundersen, Edna (1997-06-10). Review: Wu-Tang Forever. USA Today. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Harrington, Richard. Review: Wu-Tang Forever. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Strauss, Neil (1997-06-10). Review: Wu-Tang Forever. The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- Wu-Tang Forever accolades and ratings. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved 2010-07-17.
- "Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Australiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan - Wu-Tang Forever" (In German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Wu-Tang Clan. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan: Wu-Tang Forever" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "GFK Chart-Track". Chart-Track.co.uk. GFK Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Oficjalna lista sprzedaży :: OLIS - Official Retail Sales Chart" (In Polish). OLiS. Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Forever". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Wu-Tang Clan. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- "Wu-Tang Clan Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums for Wu-Tang Clan. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved June 25, 1997.
- Wu-Tang Forever at Discogs
- Wu-Tang Forever at MusicBrainz
- Album review at RapReviews.com
- Album accolades at acclaimedmusic.net